Angel wing begonia (also known known as Begonia corallina or cane begonia) is an easy-to-grow flowering houseplant that blooms profusely throughout the year with proper care. Although it’s typically quite hardy, there are a few reasons your plant might not be thriving.
Why is my angel wing begonia dying? Too much sunlight, low temperatures, dry air, and over-watering are common problems. However, fungal disease and bacterial leaf spot can also affect indoor begonias. Let’s take a look at how you can diagnose and fix these issues.
Too Much Sunlight
Angel wing begonia cannot tolerate direct sunlight. If you place the plant in an area that receives direct sun, this can burn and scorch the leaves. For the best results, place in bright, indirect light. In my experience, the best location for this begonia is an east-facing window with the light filtered by sheer, gauzy curtains.
Avoid placing in west- or south-facing windows, as the direct afternoon sun will be too harsh for your angel wing. And north-facing windows won’t provide enough light. If you don’t have an east-facing window available, consider placing under LED plant lights for 14 – 16 hours per day.
Another reason your angel wing begonia might be dying is low temperatures. Temperatures below 55 degrees F (12 degrees C) can cause permanent damage to your plant. For the plant to thrive, it needs temperatures of around 65 – 75 degrees F (18 – 24 degrees C) year-round.
Make sure to keep your angel wing begonia away from cold drafts (near opening doors and windows, etc.) and away from blasts of hot air from heating vents or wood stoves. See our Angel Wing Begonia Care Guide for more information on this and other care requirements.
If your angel wing begonia leaves become dry and brittle, or they turn pale in color, this can be a sign of low humidity (dry air). This begonia needs moderate humidity levels. Here are some tips for raising humidity near your plant:
- Mist your begonia several times a week using a spray bottle of lukewarm water set to the “mist” setting. If your air is very dry or your home is centrally heated, you can mist daily or even multiple times a day.
- Place the plant on a homemade humidity tray (a tray filled with pebbles and water), making sure the bottom of the pot never sits directly in the water. Keep the water level a bit lower than the pebbles.
- Place a high-quality houseplant humidifier in the room near your angel wing begonia. I use this Honeywell Cool Mist humidifier to increase moisture near my plants and I’ve had great results with it. You can read my review of this model here.
If you notice your angel wing begonia leaves turning brown or yellow, this is most likely caused by over-watering. Leaves dropping off can also indicate too much water. For the best results, only water your begonia when the top 1 inch of the potting medium dries out.
To test the soil moisture, simply stick your finger into the soil up to your first knuckle. Does the soil feel dry? If so, water thoroughly. However, if the soil feels moist, it’s okay to wait another day. This simple test will prevent you from watering your begonia too often.
Planting angel wing begonia in large pots also contributes to over-watering. Keep plants in small pots to prevent this issue. When re-potting, shift to a container no more than 2 inches in diameter larger than the current container.
There are two types of fungal diseases that commonly infect angel wing begonias: Botrytis and powdery mildew. Here’s how to know if they’re impacting your plants:
- BOTRYTIS – If you see tan spots on your angel wing begonia leaves and the plant is rotting at the base, this is most likely botrytis. If possible, remove any infected leaves and propagate new plants from stem cuttings. This disease is more common with rooted cuttings. But you can prevent it by using a clean rooting medium (such as a soil-less seed starting mix).
- POWDERY MILDEW – If you see white, powdery patches on your angel wing begonia leaves, this is most likely powdery mildew. At the first sign of this disease, remove all affected leaves and increase air circulation around the plants. Older leaves are more susceptible to powdery mildew than younger ones.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
If your angel wing begonia leaves develop dark spots with yellow halos around them, this is most likely bacterial leaf spot. Just as you would for powdery mildew, immediately remove affected leaves and increase air circulation around the plants.
Overly-wet soil encourages the spread of bacterial infections, so make sure you are not over-watering your begonias. Refer to the over-watering section above or my Angel Wing Begonia Care Guide for more information on proper watering of this plant.
Here are some commonly asked questions related to your angel wing begonia dying that you might find helpful (and my answers to them).
Why is My Angel Wing Begonia Dying?
Too much sunlight, low temperatures, low humidity, over-watering, fungal diseases such as botrytis and powdery mildew, and bacterial leaf spot are all common reasons your angel wing begonia might fail to thrive. Follow the steps above to diagnose and treat these issues and get your plant back to health.
How Do I Save My Dying Angel Wing Begonia?
First, place the plant in an east-facing window and hang sheer curtains to filter the light. Keep angel wing begonia out of direct sun. Second, make sure to water only when the top 1 inch of soil dries out to prevent over-watering. (If you think your plant is suffering from too much water, see my post on how to fix overwatered plants for help.)
Next, increase humidity around the plant by misting regularly, placing on a humidity tray, or placing a humidifier in the room. And finally, immediately treat any suspected fungal or bacterial disease by removing affected leaves and increasing air circulation.
If you follow these steps, you can usually save your dying angel wing begonia, although it might take a few weeks to completely restore health. If your plant is too far gone, consider propagating a new plant from healthy stem cuttings so all is not completely lost. See my Angel Wing Begonia Care Guide for instructions on taking and rooting stem cuttings.